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I recently bought a house, and would like to keep my lawn looking as nice as everyone else's in my neighborhood. Right now I water every zone 5-8 minutes, every other day. This is just something I made up, and is not based on anything. However, as the picture shows, my lawn is starting to die.

I assume I should water more in the zones that get full sun, but I'd like to make sure before I start a new schedule.

So, for how long should I water each zone?

The white is sun, and the gray is shaded by my tree. I live in Fort Worth, TX and have bermuda grass.

enter image description here

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migrated from diy.stackexchange.com Jun 17 '11 at 7:34

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By the way. I just bought a home with tons of landscaping and I wasn't aware of this SE page. I'll be a regular now. Thanks! –  gtaylor85 Jun 17 '11 at 15:22
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's normal that wherever the sun hits most the grass is usually going to die a lot faster. And unless you are ready for some pretty hefty water bills there is not much you can do about it besides water.

Aeration / dethatching may also help as it breaks up the ground and gets rid of all the dead grass beneath the good grass. Aeration will put in those holes or spikes into the grass allowing more water / fertilizer to enter the grass and help air it out.

If you are not concerned about your water bill and you want to keep up with the jones' :) then set the zones of the dying grass area to 12-15 minutes. It may / may not help..the sun is a very strong animal. The only other thing you can do as mentioned is to aerate or dethatch.

Good luck

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Thanks for the response. I'll try aeration. I want my front yard to look nice. My backyard/sideyard are completely covered with pool/hottub, landscaping, and pots. I have little grass to deal with. –  gtaylor85 Jun 17 '11 at 15:20
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For aeration see this topic: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/266/… I always recommend the mantis with the aerator / detatcher combo. –  JonH Jun 17 '11 at 15:22
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@JonH +1 for "Aeration / dethatching" (if required). –  Mike Perry Sep 16 '11 at 15:09
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The problem that I see is that instead of worrying how many minutes your sprinkler is on you should be worrying about how much water you are getting. What you are doing now is stressing your lawn in the sunny area. Infrequent thorough watering will make your lawn stronger and make it grow a longer root system to withstand lack of water. Put out rain gauges throughout your lawn and see how long it takes to reach a half inch. That is how long to set your timer. Water your lawn like this twice a week in the early morning. I am basing this on experience and recommendations by many Florida agencies.

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Just to echo something @JonH has touched on: I live in nearby Irving and I just let it go.

Our lawns are a bit of a mix, but the bermudagrass is actually one of the better looking bits when it yellows.

As well as huge water savings, here are some other advantages:

  • It doesn't look that untidy - in fact yellow bermuda looks a lot tidier than the "haven't had time for two weeks to mow it" look

  • It doesn't need cutting on a weekly basis. In the Texas Summer Heat? No thanks! I cut ours for the last time this week - next time will probably be September.

  • Keeping up with the Jones'? They're simply not worth it. If you have a dictatorial housing association, then you need to educate them about xeriscaping. (it is no accident that our new succulent/cacti bed takes a large chunk out of our front lawn)

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I don't mind the heat, the pool helps. We actually don't have any sort of HOA, I just want my darn grass to be green. I won't spend a ton of money on it, but if extending my watering a little helps I'll take the hit. Thanks for the answer. –  gtaylor85 Jun 17 '11 at 15:21
    
This week's 100F temps are too much, but I'm not a native! :-) –  winwaed Jun 17 '11 at 15:33
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The heat alone shouldn't be enough to kill your lawn; my bet is that your soil is too compacted and can't retain the moisture. If you dig into your soil 9-12 inches, you should notice it's much cooler, and therefore, less susceptible to evaporation. I agree with the recommendations for aerating the lawn; however, you should also change your watering schedule.

Your watering schedule should probably be twice a week, and a long cycle (30 minutes or more) on the sunny parts. You want to encourage the roots of the plant to grow deeper to look for water. Watering light every other day will encourage a shallow root system, which will exacerbate the yellowing problem.

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I think you might find some of the information found in this answer helpful/useful, as the information given directly relates to lawns in Texas eg

You may also wish to take the time to have a browse through the below site, as it directly relates to lawns in your local area:

I highly recommend you listen to, "You Bet Your Garden" podcast -- Not So Perfect Produce, 27the August 2011 (Direct link to MP3) and start listening at 13mins:27secs in.

How to water your lawn perfectly with Guy Fipps, PhD, P.E., Director of the Irrigation Technology Center at Texas A&M University.


Q. How high do you mow your lawn ie How tall is the grass after you've finished mowing?

  • Early in the growing season (early to mid Spring) as the grass is coming out of Winter dormancy, cut your lawn at 1½ to 2inches (37.5 to 50mm), then from late Spring onward move the cutting height on your lawnmower up, 2inches (50mm) minimum, 2½inches (62.5mm) would be better.


Q. How much water do you give your lawn during each watering?

If you're not sure, do something like the following to measure the amount of water:

  • Put a empty, shallow (tuna) can in the middle on the watering zone and measure the depth of the contents after your sprinkling system has turned itself off after 20 minutes.

For a lawn to remain alive (instead of allowing it to go into dormancy) during extreme heat and drought, it needs at least 1inch (25mm) of water per week. The 1inch (25mm) of water is best delivered via either:

  • One deep watering a week that delivers a minimum of 1inch (25mm).

  • Or two waterings a week, each one delivering a minimum of ½inch (12.5mm).

Watering a lawn more than twice a week (even during extreme heat & drought) has a negative effect on the lawn ie

  • It encourages the grass to develop a shallow root system, where as what you really want to do, especially in a situation like yours, is encourage the grass to develop a deep root system, make it go deeper to look for water below the surface.

  • Frequent watering also increases the possibility of diseases developing in your lawn.

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